In an age obsessed with practicality, productivity, and efficiency, I frequently worry that we are leaving little room for abstract knowledge and for the kind of curiosity that invites just enough serendipity to allow for the discovery of ideas we didn’t know we were interested in until we are, ideas that we may later transform into new combinations with applications both practical and metaphysical.
Popova explores the notion that as a society we are ever-focused on pragmatism and efficiency, foregoing the motivation of pure curiosity that drove some of history’s greatest minds.
The ‘useless’ knowledge that builds up in our mind can allow us to connect the dots where others before us have not. The most profound discoveries of our time have happened by accident. Curious people splicing second-hand ideas, adding their own contribution and threading all the pieces together.
We spend a lot of time creating, refining and following processes that are aimed at improving our efficiency - but we should ensure we aren’t limiting the serendipity of ideas. It’s often when we are least determined to follow process, meet a deadline or reach a goal when we are most inspired.